5 Characteristics Of Caring Customer Service
Over the past couple years, I have fallen in love with companies like Zappos, Nordstrom and Ritz-Carlton. These companies have made a name for themselves by being legendary in the world of customer service. You don’t have to search for a long time to hear stories of awesome customer service tied to these brands. There is one common denominator that you will find in these stories. These companies deeply care for their customers!
Over the past few months I have spent some time defining customer service based on our five service standards at Phone.com. They are quality, accessibility, choice, value and today I want to talk about caring customer service.
Before you start thinking that customer service is isolated to one department within your company, allow me broaden your view of customer service. If customer service is merely isolated to the people answering your calls, emails and chats, you will miss the mark you are striving for 100 percent. Caring customer service must permeate the entire organization, inside and out and from top to bottom. Here are five characteristics that are essential to caring customer service:
Make Meaningful Connections- Zappos says it best when they encourage their staff to make personal emotional connections with their customers. Hire and train customer service agents to be strong in soft skills such as empathy, honesty, and transparency. While the act of making meaningful connections with customers may lead to longer handle times, this will result in customers with a much deeper connection to your brand.
Appreciate Your Customers- Establish a customer appreciation station where employees are encouraged to write thank you notes to customers. Consider sending other tokens of gratitude to your customers such as food, gift cards or even flowers. Many companies even give their customer service staff a budget for this. I shared a real life example highlighting the impact of this in a recent blog post.
Take Ownership- Vala Afshar, Chief Marketing Officer at Extreme Networks says, “The customer’s problem is ours until it’s no longer theirs.” Caring customer service takes ownership of each and every situation they are faced with, and doesn’t relinquish ownership until the problem is truly solved. The peace of mind in knowing that a customer service representative is taking complete ownership of the situation is often enough to calm even the angriest of customers.
Listen To Your Customers- It is essential to listen to your customers to learn how to better care for them. Sending surveys to every customer who interacts with your company throughout the day is essential. Be careful to read through and respond to every piece of feedback that you receive to show your customers that their concerns never fall on deaf ears.
Promote Caring Internal Customer Service- In his book, The Cult Of The Customer, Shep Hyken says “Treat your employees the way you want your customers treated– maybe even better.” Everyone in your organization needs to understand that while they might not interact with customers directly, they are likely serving someone who does. All of these same caring customer service characteristics apply to them as well.
You may have noticed that each of these five characteristics are also essential to building lasting and meaningful relationships with others. Never forget that at the core of customer service is the act of people serving people. Put these characteristics to work when you serve others and you will in fact show the people in your life that you care both inside and outside of work.